The Dayton Art Institute New Central Utility Plant, Dayton, OH

Oct. 1, 2007
Project Innovations 2007

In a building where the primary business is priceless art - such as the Dayton Art Institute (a 1928-vintage building) - it is imperative to maintain a certain physical environment (70-degrees F. and 50-percent humidity), as well as ensure that any potential leaking of air-handling units or coils above the gallery is caught before any art is damaged.

The Dayton Art Institute knew that the current equipment was no longer able to serve the environment necessary to maintain the art. Working with Siemens Building Technologies Inc. (SBT) to establish an optimal modernization program of its central utility plant, the project team made every attempt to maximize sustainability and energy efficiency as well.

Special Design Features
The new central plant building was built as a separate building and backed up to the Dayton Art Institute's underground tunnel, where the main utility pipes were installed. The building was built with a brick façade and two chimneys (one of which was used to hide the boiler flue) in order to blend in with existing structures. It was also installed to be able to withstand additional weight. In fact, the Dayton Art Institute is now considering the roof for an exterior structure garden, green roof, and courtyard outside its gallery exhibit area.

In lieu of cooling towers, SBT designed and installed new chillers that use well water pumped from an underground aquifer. The drilling and testing to ensure that the well was available for the desired use was completed; pumps and piping for the well were installed as part of the project. Ultrasonic flow meters were also installed in the new plant to measure well water flow and chilled water flow; a Siemens control system monitors and controls the VFD for the well pump based upon the chilled water system gpm requirements.

Design/Construction Challenges
SBT worked with the Dayton Art Institute and communicated with its curators to make sure art was relocated to eliminate any potential problems when working in specific areas. Walkthroughs were conducted a week ahead of the work and then a day or two ahead of time to ensure that the work was ready to be implemented within the project schedule.

New controls for the air-handling units and reheat coils (located above gallery spaces) were pre-wired and replaced on a very tight schedule. Drain pans, located beneath all coils, now contain moisture sensors that will immediately alert the maintenance staff of even the slightest water leak. 

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